Capable of reaching an imposing 19 inches (49 cm) in length, the pileated is the largest woodpecker in America. This feisty redhead is hard to miss when loudly excavating in trees for food or when carving out a nesting cavity. The name may be pronounced either “PILL-ee-ated” or “PILE-ee-ated” and derives from the Latin name pileatus, which means capped or crested.
Woodpeckers such as the pileated are beneficial to other woodland species because of the nesting cavities that they leave behind each season. New residents, from songbirds to squirrels, are happy to move in and make themselves at home.
The pileated woodpecker is relatively common in western Pennsylvania, but is rarely banded because of the type of net used at the banding station. The small mesh size that is normally used is intended for smaller birds, not these large fellows. The banding team reports that the occasional pileated woodpecker that finds its way into a net uses its strong claws, punishing beak, and raucous calls to make its indignance known!